Prison Regulations

Ceisteanna (132)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

132. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure regarding the official use of handcuffs within the Irish Prison Service; and if there are approved methods for same. [7590/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the official use of handcuffs within the Irish Prison Service (IPS) comes under Rule 65 of Prison Rules 2007.

I am further advised by my officials in the IPS that there are approved methods for such use. All staff are trained upon induction into the Service and refresher training is carried out periodically on a regular basis.

The use of handcuffs on prisoners escorted outside of prisons (appearance in court, hospital appointments) has been standardised in all prisons since 2017 and is utilised following risk assessments of each such escort.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Ceisteanna (133, 134, 135)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

133. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 67 and 72 of 6 February 2018, the number of persons that were tested at the 52,395 mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints nationally during 2017; the number that were tested for drugs only, for alcohol only and for drugs and alcohol, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7598/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

134. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 67 and 72 of 6 February 2018, the number of persons that were tested at the 52,395 mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints nationally during 2017; the number that were tested for drugs only, for alcohol only and for drugs and alcohol, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7599/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

135. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 67 and 72 of 6 February 2018, the number of persons that were tested at the 52,395 mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints nationally during 2017; the number that were tested for drugs only, for alcohol only and for drugs and alcohol, by month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7600/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 to 135, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that 52,395 Mandatory Intoxicant Testing (MIT) checkpoints were conducted by An Garda Síochána following the commencement of the relevant legislation on 13 April last year to 31 December 2017, during which period 612 oral fluid tests were administered, 90 of which tested positive for the presence of drugs. Of those 90 positive tests, I am informed by the Garda authorities that 89 persons were arrested, with one person passing the subsequent impairment test, having initially tested positive. I am further advised by An Garda Síochána that these statistics are provisional, operational and subject to change and are valid as of 1 February 2018. 

I have requested a Garda report in relation to the remaining statistics sought by the Deputy and I will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a Garda report.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (136)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

136. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of crimes that were recorded in which the suspected offenders were on bail, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, by category of crime involved, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7603/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of the official recorded crime statistics. I have forwarded a copy of the Deputy's query to the CSO for direct reply in respect of the 2015 and 2016 figures.

The Deputy will be aware that the CSO has not yet published crime statistics for 2017 as there is a process ongoing to review Garda homicide statistics.  However, I am advised that the CSO intends to recommence the publication of the 2017 crime statistics ‘under reservation’ in the second quarter of this year and so the remainder of the figures sought by the Deputy will become available at that stage.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (137)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

137. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons released from jail that went on to commit an offence again within three years of their release; the proportion of the number of released prisoners they represented, by each of past five years, by category of offence, and by period within which the subsequent crime was committed, in tabular form; the way in which the rate of recidivism here compares with other EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7604/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the latest data in relation to recidivism (re-offending) rates for offenders who were given a custodial sentence or community sanction is contained in the fourth set of recidivism studies published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in December 2016.  This and the previous three studies have allowed the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service access to comprehensive data in relation to the rate of recidivism among ex-prisoner. These studies are on the website www.cso.ie.

 The 2016 study reports on:

- Prison Recidivism which is a detailed study on those who were released from a custodial prison sentence in 2010 and whether they were subsequently convicted of a further offence up to the end of 2013 and

- Probation Recidivism which is a detailed study of recidivism among offenders placed under Probation Service supervision in 2010.

The Prison Recidivism Study’s findings indicate that the recidivism or re-offending rate was 45.1% for the particular cohort of offenders released in 2010. When compared with the equivalent cohort from the 2009 study there is a fall in recidivism of 2.4%. This follows the 3.5% decrease that was seen for the 2009 cohort from the previous report.

For the purposes of this study, release recidivism is defined as an individual committing a criminal offence (a 're-offence') within a three year period following their release from prison and being subsequently convicted for that offence.  Internationally, sample selection and definitions of recidivism as well as follow up times & outcomes can vary considerably. These differences in recording and reporting practises can invalidate findings and make comparisons between countries difficult. In this respect, it will be noted that no link to an international comparison is provided in that section of the CSO website where the 2016 study is published.

Divorce Process

Ceisteanna (138)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

138. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to alleviate the backlog of divorce cases to be heard by the courts; his further plans to expedite the appointment of appropriate judges to clear the backlog of divorce cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7606/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. Furthermore, the scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the Presidents of the Courts and the presiding judges who are, under the constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the Circuit Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court in family law proceedings (including judicial separation, divorce and nullity), with the High Court generally dealing with cases involving considerable assets or income as well as appeals from the Circuit Court.  Where the market value of lands exceeds €3 million the Circuit Court must, on application to it by an interested party, transfer the proceedings to the High Court.

The Courts Service has advised that the current waiting time in the High Court for a hearing date for a divorce case is three months from the time the parties indicate to the Court that they are ready for hearing. Issues which may arise between parties before trial may result in a case taking considerably longer, but there is currently no backlog in the High Court of cases awaiting hearing dates. 

The Courts Service has also advised that waiting times for the transaction of family law business in the Circuit Court are listed in the table, noting that waiting times are collated on a Court office basis rather than on an individual Court basis and that the waiting times are not specifically collated on a case type basis e.g. divorce cases.    

Circuit Court Family Law - Waiting times in months

Office

Family Law

Contested

Family Law

Non-contested

Family Law  

Appeals

Carlow

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Carrick on Shannon

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Castlebar

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Cavan

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Clonmel

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Cork

6-9

Next sitting

Next sitting

Dublin

3-5 

2

4

Dundalk

6-12

Next sitting

6-12

Ennis

6

Next sitting

6

Galway

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Kilkenny

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Letterkenny

6-9

Next sitting

6-9

Limerick

Next sitting

Next sitting

3-6

Longford

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Monaghan

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Mullingar

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Naas

6

Next sitting

6

Portlaoise

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Roscommon

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Sligo

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Tralee

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Trim

6-9

Next sitting

6-9

Tullamore

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Waterford

3-6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Wexford

6-12

Next sitting

3-6

Wicklow

6-9

3-6

6

Note: The waiting time is from receipt of notice of trial/notice of motion to listing for hearing in contested and uncontested matters.

The Courts Service has further advised that delays in the hearing of cases and the size of court lists can be impacted by a number of factors, many of which are outside the control of the courts and the Courts Service, for example, the unavailability of a witness or vital evidence, delays in the furnishing of reports or because the parties and/or legal practitioners are not ready to proceed on allocated dates. This gives rise to adjournments, which can have an impact on the time taken to complete the hearing of a case and on the number of cases which can be disposed of in a court sitting. Most adjournments are sought by parties to a case.

The Courts Service has also informed me that the Presidents of the High and Circuit Courts monitor waiting times and workload across all court lists and seeks to ensure the optimum use of court time and judicial resources. Wherever possible, the Presidents targets additional judicial resources at the areas of greatest need.

The Government is committed to significant reform of the courts, including the establishment of a family law court structure that is streamlined, more efficient, and less costly.  My Department is currently working on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will operate in a user-friendly and efficient manner.  The intention is to establish a dedicated Family Court within the existing court structures.  The Family Court Bill will support the provisions in the Mediation Act 2017 by encouraging greater use of alternative dispute resolution to assist in more timely resolution of family law cases.  

I hope to secure Government approval in the coming months for the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill. Once the General Scheme has been approved by Government, it will be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and to the relevant Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (139)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

139. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the full commencement of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7636/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was enacted on 6 April 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions Order) 2016 (S.I. No. 12 of 2016) commenced the bulk of the Act with effect from 18 January 2016. That Commencement Order brought provisions of Parts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13 of the Act into operation. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 355 of 2017) commenced part of section 47(c) of the Act with effect from 31 July 2017 and the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 474 of 2017) commenced provisions of the Act relating to adoption by civil partners and cohabiting couples with effect from 2 November 2017.

Part 10 of the Act, which amended the Passports Act 2008, was commenced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1 July 2015.

Part 11 of the Act, which related to adoption, was not commenced and was repealed by section 2(2) of the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, which came into operation on 19 October 2017, as provided for by the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 443 of 2017). The provisions in Part 11 have been incorporated into the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, for which the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is responsible.

Section 177 of the Act has not yet been commenced due to technical issues, which have now been resolved. The Department is currently reviewing the section to ensure that there are no further outstanding issues. It is expected that the section will be commenced in early course.

Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provide for parentage through donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR). The issue of the recognition of parentage for same-sex couples and their children is dealt with under Part 2 of the Act. The Minister for Health has responsibility for commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act.

Other provisions of the Act which relate to DAHR have not yet been commenced as they are linked to Parts 2 and 3. The commencement of the provisions of the Act which are related to Parts 2 and 3 will be co-ordinated with the commencement of those Parts by the Minister for Health.

In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill is undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. That Bill will provide for the establishment of an Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority which will, among other things, undertake certain functions under Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

Part 9 of the Act provides for a number of amendments to the Civil Registration Act 2004. No provision of Part 9 has yet been commenced. Some sections cannot be commenced until Parts 2 and 3 are brought into operation by the Minister for Health. Other sections are dependent on provisions of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 being commenced and my Department is liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to scheduling the commencement of these sections.